Origin of Hottentot

1670–80; < Afrikaans; origin uncertain
Related formsHot·ten·tot·ic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for hottentot


noun offensive

plural -tot or -tots a former name for Khoikhoi (def. 1)
any of the languages of this people, belonging to the Khoisan family

Word Origin for Hottentot

C17: from Afrikaans, of uncertain origin


When referring to the people the accepted word nowadays is Khoikhoi . Hottentot continues to be used for some animal and plant names, as in Hottentot fig
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hottentot


1670s, from S.African Dutch, said to mean "stammerer," it is from hot en tot "hot and tot," nonsense words imitative of the clicking, jerking Khoisan speech.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper